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"Burning Walls" May Stop Black Hole Formation

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the sounds-like-my-chili dept.

Space 100

KentuckyFC writes "Black holes are thought to form when a star greater than 4 times the mass of the Sun explodes in a supernova and then collapses. The force of this collapse is so great that no known force can stop it. In less massive stars, the collapse cannot overcome so-called neutron degeneracy, the force that stops neutrons from being squashed together. Now a Russian physicist says another effect may be involved. He points out that quantum chromodynamics predicts that when neutrons are squashed together, matter undergoes a phase transition into "subhadronic" matter. This is very different from ordinary matter. In subhadronic form, space is essentially empty. So the phase change creates a sudden reduction in pressure, forcing any ordinary matter in the star to implode into this new vacuum. The result is a massive increase in temperature of this matter that creates a "burning wall" within the supernova. And it is this burning wall that stops the formation of a black hole, not just the degeneracy pressure of neutrons. This should lead to much greater energies inside a supernova than had been thought possible until now. And that's important because it could explain the formation of high energy gamma ray bursts that have long puzzled astrophysicists."

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100 comments

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28336423)

are supernovas now more or less likely to contribute to Global Warming?

Re:So (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28336955)

According to the whiney commie demoncrat terrorists they are caused by global warming and all Republicans. After all Republicans are to blame for all of the problems in the history of the universe when you talk to the demoncrats.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28337229)

Since terrorism has been renamed man-caused disaster, there are no terrorists anymore. There are only man-caused disaster... causers.

Re:So (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28337243)

how is this modded informative? I swear, I spend all my time just dealing with trolls here these days...

Use Vulcan Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28336431)

I think we have cinematic proof that Red Matter would work.

Burning walls... (4, Funny)

V50 (248015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336453)

I'm sorry, but after reading the title of the article, all I can think about is all that spicy food I ate last night...

Re:Burning walls... (-1, Offtopic)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336523)

At least you didn't read that as burning balls. I had that one night when I ate spicy food and it splattered everywhere in the toilet.

Re:Burning walls... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28336877)

way way waaaaaaaaaaay too much info.

Re:Burning walls... (-1, Offtopic)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336845)

I'm sorry, but THIS part:

"He points out that quantum chromodynamics predicts that when neutrons are squashed together, matter undergoes a phase transition into "subhadronic" matter. This is very different from ordinary matter. In subhadronic form, space is essentially empty. So the phase change creates a sudden reduction in pressure forcing any ordinary matter in the star to implode into this new vacuum. The result is a massive increase in temperature of this matter that creates a "burning wall" within the supernova. And it is this burning wall that stops the formation of a black hole, not just the degeneracy pressure of neutrons. This should lead to much greater energies inside a supernova than had been thought possible until now. And that's important because it could explain the formation of high energy gamma ray bursts that have long puzzled astrophysicists.""

reminds me of my first, full-on sex act. I wasn't even THINKING of the movie "The Black Hole", either... I did, tho, feel i was being pulled, squished, and exploded into multiple dimensions.

Re:Burning walls... Don't worry, it'll be on-topic (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338165)

When one of those black holes comes burning thru space right thru Uranus so put the Earth in great heat... "Sex Is Zero" will timely and more...

Re:Burning walls... Don't worry, it'll be on-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28343789)

posting to negate bad moderation

Re:Burning walls... (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337003)

They're talking interstellar, and you can't see past Uranus.

He's still looking for Klingons ... (0)

powerlord (28156) | more than 4 years ago | (#28340793)

But what they're saying that the new Star Trek movie had it backwards? That Walls of Fire stop Black Holes, not the other way around? Wow.

I knew J.J. Abrams was good, but to hit you with a twist ending AFTER you've already left the theater is incredible.

Re:Burning walls... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337597)

At first I thought this was an article about how to stop the LHC from destroying the earth. Oh well, I guess I'll resume writing my will and last testament...

This story gives the term "Firewall" new meaning. (0)

revjtanton (1179893) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336513)

I'm just sayin'...they shoulda called it a firewall instead of "burning walls"....it appears science has no room for marketing.

I love this kind of story (5, Insightful)

Alcimedes (398213) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336625)

I never like when scientists can't explain a major aspect of something like a black hole. They have models/predictions etc., but there are these little pieces that are missing.

Then someone comes along with an elegant solution that fits perfectly into the existing theory/model/design and suddenly all these unexplained pieces make perfect sense.

That is what science is about. Revelation based on fact, not faith. At the end of the day I think it's a lot more rewarding, although a lot harder to come by.

Re:I love this kind of story (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28336711)

an elegant solution that fits perfectly into the existing theory/model/design and suddenly all these unexplained pieces make perfect sense.

Sounds like faith to me... Where's the observation of facts in the above?

Re:I love this kind of story (4, Informative)

Kerrigann (1401847) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336769)

Facts... like unexplained Gamma Ray Bursts?

I mean, this is more of synthesis of existing observations rather than *new* observations, but it's still science.

It's taking unexplained observations and incorporating those observations into better theories that fit the data. I'm not an astrophysicist, and this still seems like it's just an hypothesis, but I guess I don't see where the problem is.

Re:I love this kind of story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28337211)

I wasn't talking about tfa, I was talking about the op. The elegantness of a model has nothing to do with how well it describes the truth. To somehow see this elegantness as proof sounds a lot like religion to me.

Re:I love this kind of story (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#28340897)

You might ask Einstein or Hawking about that. They sort of disagree with you. They seem to always be offended by any part of a theory that appears inelegant to them.

Now I'll grant that this *ISN'T* proof, it's just something that seems to be an unreasonably effective way of looking for where the truth should lie, and what evidence should support it.

Re:I love this kind of story (2, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#28345707)

Well Einstein was offended by the hackiness of Quantum Mechanics to the point where he thought it must be incorrect. However, he was wrong.

As far as I can tell there's no reason the universe has to abide by rules that we consider elegant. In the fact elegant seems to be a subjective thing.

Then again maybe there's a much more elegant theory will be discovered that can explain all the results General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics do and more and will be simpler than each of them.

I don't know. And neither does anyone else.

Re:I love this kind of story (0, Flamebait)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336891)

It's obviously not faith... the scientist didn't donate money to the solution, and the solution didn't molest his children.

Re:I love this kind of story (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28337387)

It appears that Bible-humpo nut-freaks are getting a lot of mod points these days. A mild side joke about church-child-molesting got my comment modded as flamebait the other day; and now this post I'm replying to, even though it it on-topic, correct, informative, and insightful.

Hey Bible-humpos, stop the hatin'.

Re:I love this kind of story (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28336895)

an elegant solution that fits perfectly into the existing theory/model/design and suddenly all these unexplained pieces make perfect sense.

Sounds like faith to me... Where's the observation of facts in the above?

You don't observe facts, you observe phenomena.

Faith requires neither facts, nor observation. You just say something like "Hey, it runs on turtle oil, because the Big Man said it does" and let that stand on its own merit.

Re:I love this kind of story (2, Interesting)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338157)

1 Corinthians 15:14 —

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

Re:I love this kind of story (4, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337087)

There's nothing wrong with faith per se, except when it interferes with observable reality. But it's not faith because it's recognized as one of many possibilities and has a probability attached to it.

What you're seeing is that this possibility is the most probable, which is why it is favored over the other myriad of possibilities. But when some new data comes along, this idea may be strengthened or weakened, and it may eventually lose its favored status to another possibility. Sometimes, but relatively rarely, a possibility is so probable that it becomes generally irrefutable (but the minutae are usually still in the works), in which case, it becomes theorem a.k.a. fact.

Of course, even facts can be changed with new data. "Refined" is probably the correct term. Facts don't get turned upside down, but they may get marginalized, or slotted into a larger, more general fact, or pieces may be replaced with better ideas. For example, gravity being the 4th fundamental force is a fact, but the mechanism behind gravity isn't understood. So some data may come along to explain gravity, or to turn gravity into one of the other 3 fundamental forces, or to make gravity only a small part of a much larger 4th fundamental force. But since no such data exists as of now, gravity remains as it is.

That is science.

Re:I love this kind of story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28336857)

Revelation based on fact

WTH man, we were about to have a nice discussion about blackholes and astronomy but you just had to go and do that. Now this place is going to turn into a science vs religion flamewar.

Re:I love this kind of story (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28336867)

In other words, he just put forth a possible explanation without any hard data to back it up. People have done the same in the past, only to have the observations go against their hypotheses. Building a hypothesis is only half the battle; you still need to gather evidence to support it.

Re:I love this kind of story (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337043)

one usually forms a hypothesis to fit data, not the other way around

Re:I love this kind of story (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338313)

You mean unlike the dark matter/energy theory, that was created, because the data did not form the hypothesis, but the hypothesis must!!!1!1one(

Re:I love this kind of story (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338377)

Damn. Please ignore what went trough of my comment, and imagine it would have looked like this:

You mean unlike the dark matter/energy theory, that was created, because the data did not fit the hypothesis, but the hypothesis must!!!1!1one be true?

Thank you for your cooperation. And have a nice day. ;)

Re:I love this kind of story (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 4 years ago | (#28340533)

Well, the alternatives to dark matter/energy suck. Either there's more matter and energy out in the universe than we can observe directly, or gravity doesn't work the same on large scales as it does on small scales. Dark energy is hypothesized because we have not observed anything to account for the accelerating expansion of the universe.

The theories of dark matter and dark energy require the fewest assumptions, and best explain the observed phenomena, so it's they're working theories du jour. We don't like them, though, so if your theory is better, please do let us know what it is.

If you don't have a better theory, please try to post informed criticism rather than inflammatory nonsense.

Re:I love this kind of story (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#28344201)

He wasn't criticizing dark matter theory any more than you just did.

He was pointing out that the statement "hypothesis are usually created to fit the data, not the other way around" was utter non-sense. Ideally, that's true, but we end up with observations that should not exist based on everything else we observe, it's a thorn in the side and it needs an explanation. Thus what are essentially still just hypothesis get called theories because a) observations necessary have so far been impossible and b) they have been around a while and no better explanation has come up from all the available data.

A hypothesis is little more than guess with (hopefully) some good intelligence behind it. You make the hypothesis, then work to gather evidence that proves or disproves it. Dark Matter is more hypothesis that fixes current cosmic theory than a stable theory in and of itself, as there is only weak evidence to support it (the expansion of the universe is accelerating after all, and it shouldn't be). What keeps it around is there isn't a better explanation.

This "burning wall" is in the beginning stages of the process, but it seems to me like it should be easier to gather evidence supporting it than is possible with dark matter.

In any case, please don't take every statement very concisely pointing out a flaw in another person's reasoning as a personal attack against you and your favorite theory.

Mmkay?

Re:I love this kind of story (4, Interesting)

Mark_in_Brazil (537925) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337199)

When I was an undergrad, I worked on CASA, the Chicago Air Shower Array. It was a big array of detectors in the Utah desert, designed to identify point souces of ultra-high energy gamma ray bursts and get more information about the showers of particles they create when they hit the atmosphere.

It's nice to see a model that could conceivably give an idea of how gamma ray bursts happen. In 1988-89, there really weren't any very good candidates. The problem was interesting enough to get James Cronin, who had won a Nobel Prize with Val Fitch for their discovery of a certain kind of symmetry violation in particle physics, interested in experimental astrophysics. He was one of the principal scientists on the project. And he even did some manual labor, like helping with wrapping detectors. I remember him eating the lunch he had brought from home and talking to me about the health benefits of garlic as we worked on preparing detectors one day.

Each box had four detectors in it, each detector made of a piece of scintillator with a big photomultiplier attached, all wrapped in black to make it light-tight. In addition to an identifying number, the grad students gave each box a name. Some were named for blues musicians, for example. At some point, the undergrads working on the project started expressing creativity by using made-up names to sign the detectors we had prepared and tested. To this day I wonder if Cronin ever saw the one I had signed as "Cronan the Barbarian."

"Experimental Astrophysics"? (1, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338509)

That's where you set off a bunch of supernova with different intitial conditions and compare the results with theory?

Re:"Experimental Astrophysics"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28339835)

Yeah. They're hoping to use your gut since they expect that the only supernovas could explain the amount of hot air originating from your orifices.

Re:I love this kind of story (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337509)

However, I have a lot of speculation on any theory especially those about space where we have yet to really explore and travel, where someone assumes a few laws about existence of such an anomaly, and therefor think themselves experts
on the subject. I tend to think it is a work in progress until we can provide 100% proof that wood floats in water, or ice melts into water, etc....we have no proof of anything concerning black holes, because we don't even have one near us to view and analyze......!

Re:I love this kind of story (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#28343525)

"I tend to think it is a work in progress until we can provide 100% proof that wood floats in water, or ice melts into water, etc...."

Not surprising you think it's "a work in progress", that is what it is supposed to be. Proof is for axiomatic systems. Science offers a way to make usefull predictions of the future with various degrees of certainty, that certainty never reaches 100% as it does in maths (and dare I say religion).

Sure you can demonstrate a piece of wood floats but that is not "100% proof" the same bit of wood will float the next time you try the experiment.

Re:I love this kind of story (2, Insightful)

NAR8789 (894504) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337577)

What?! No! The heart of science is not fitting hypotheses to data. That's the sort of dangerous fallacy that produces Aristotle's "science", and in fact what dangerous fundamentalists thrive on. The thing that sets science apart is rigorous, repeatable empirical testing of not previously observed predictions. Not to say that the hypothesis in the article isn't exciting, but the already raising it up as a shining example of scientific triumph starts down a path I find terrifying.

Re:I love this kind of story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28338725)

Every problem has a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong.

Re:I love this kind of story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28339621)

This isn't always the case. No one need be reminded of the massive amount of explanation and modeling that went into both geocentrism and heliocentrism. Just because you can make nuances fit doesn't mean they belong in the paradigm of the day.

Re:I love this kind of story (0)

ubermiester (883599) | more than 4 years ago | (#28339675)

That is what science is about. Revelation based on fact, not faith.

But you realize that faith is not an inherently religious concept. You have faith that science will explain things like the "Big Bang" and the "cause" of gravity. In fact, you have faith that science is a useful tool in the first place. What if all of our observations are based on a lie perpetrated by an all-powerful trickster (see Descartes)? Or perhaps reality is merely a series of shadows projected on a cave wall in front of a captive audience (see Plato). Attempting to set science above religious dogma based on some notion of absolute certainty is to engage in the same kind of hubris you chastise. Faith is an essential part of life. It is a bridge between what we have proven to be true and what we intuitively understand to be true based on personal experience. And if you say you know science to be "true", then go talk to Socrates - he's got some questions for you...

Re:I love this kind of story (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 4 years ago | (#28341279)

That is what science is about. Revelation based on fact, not faith. At the end of the day I think it's a lot more rewarding, although a lot harder to come by.

Many scientific revalations were based on faith, the assumptions a scientist makes when creating their theory. Unlike blind-faith commonly associated with religion, science allows those faith based assumptions to be tested. Ptolemy created a scientifically valid geo-centric model of the solar system, in that it could accurately predict the motion of bodies in the sky. Einstein created the cosmological constant based on his belief the universe was unchanging
It's important to understand that with science all you have at the end of the day is a working model. While it might be more rewarding by giving us planes, computers, and spaceships; the search for "truth," is a lot harder to come by, and requires more than just science.

wowsa ! (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336657)

Quantum chromodynamics, "subhadronic" matter,. .... , I think you got me lost there ;-)
How can these hypotheses be checked?

Re:wowsa ! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336851)

Sounds like its time to fund the next earth-eating collider project.

Re:wowsa ! (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337615)

If we ever found a way to accelerate neutrons, that might work. Trouble is, neutrons have no charge, and our colliders need a charge to grab on to. We have neutron sources, in the form of fissioning elements, but there's no way to get those neutrons to go around in a circle. So the usual trick of slamming particles into each other at near-lightspeed isn't possible. I suspect that testing this particular idea won't be possible until we understand so much about particle physics that we don't even need to test it.

Re:wowsa ! (1)

Lokitoth (1069508) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338057)

One could suggest using a gravity powered accelerator, though that might be a tad difficult. However, from what I understand you should be able to use other hadrons to investigate collapse into subhadronic matter, which is precisely what LHC was built to play with.

Re:wowsa ! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338213)

If we ever found a way to accelerate neutrons, that might work.

Attach them to some protons and fling the combined nuclei. How bout a 1:1 ratio, good ole deuterium.

Shouldn't it be possible to see this effect in n-n collisions, much as quark effects were discovered?

If colliding deuterium ions into bulk deuterium doesn't work, fling the accelerated ions at a target just right to break off the proton and let the neutron fling onwards into a "bucket of neutrons" from a source or a reactor. Reaction rate will be pretty slow, but if you got all day to let it run, thats OK?

Re:wowsa ! (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338881)

In a neutron star, of course, it's neutrons undergoing the hypothesized process, but is there any reason why protons wouldn't under the right conditions? If we could observe this happening with any subatomic particles, it would be sufficient to prove this is what happens to matter under those conditions.

Re:wowsa ! (2, Funny)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337189)

Create some subhadronic matter and see if it causes a region of space with lower pressure than the surrounding space. As a bonus, measure the temperature of that space before and after the pressure vacuum stabilizes.

Re:wowsa ! (4, Funny)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338045)

Create some subhadronic matter and see if it causes a region of space with lower pressure than the surrounding space. As a bonus, measure the temperature of that space before and after the pressure vacuum stabilizes.

Show all work. Write legibly in #2 pencil or blue or black permanent ink. Do not write on test booklet. Do not start until signaled to do so by your proctor. Destruction of the earth will result in automatic failure. You will have three (3) hours.

Re:wowsa ! (1)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338237)

Ideally, you'd also ensure it had a negative energy density. Then, when it supernovas, you will flood the universe with exotic matter and wormholes.

Re:wowsa ! (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338981)

Quantum chromodynamics, "subhadronic" matter,. .... , I think you got me lost there ;-) How can these hypotheses be checked?

I just checked. There's so such thing as "subhadronic" matter. Wikipedia gives me a "page not found".

QCD Phases (3, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336741)

That's an interesting article. New QCD phases have been postulated for quite a while (colour superconductors etc.) but last time I talked to an expert on it and asked whether it could account for the missing energy in a Supernova (currently SN models seem to fizzle more than explode) his reply was that the phase change was too slow to release enough energy to help the SN go bang. I'll have to read the paper to see it this idea addresses this issue.

Re:QCD Phases (-1, Troll)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337041)

I'll have to read the paper to see it this idea addresses this issue.

You run along and do that. Also, have you ever kissed a woman in passion?

=Smidge=

Re:QCD Phases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28337907)

No, he hasn't, he said he actually cared about the paper.

Supernovae (2, Informative)

SteelAngel (139767) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336743)

"Black holes are thought to form when a star greater than 4 times the mass of the Sun explodes in a supernova and then collapses. "

If a star is greater than _8_ solar masses you get a supernova.

Spoiler! (0, Troll)

GerardAtJob (1245980) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337213)

So... our solar system will vanish into a blackhole (in a few million of million of years...)!
That's a sad end...

Re:Spoiler! (3, Informative)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337303)

Reading comprehension FAIL: exactly the opposite is true. Our star will NOT supernova and form a black hole because our sun is EXACTLY one solar mass (being the star that scale is based on) which is less than eight solar masses.

Re:Spoiler! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28338035)

Our star will NOT supernova and form a black hole because our sun is EXACTLY one solar mass

And that PROVES the existence of God. I mean, what is the chance that OUR sun is EXACTLY one solar mass? There must be hundreds of suns in the universe and we got the ONLY exact one because WE are Gods CHOSEN.

Re:Spoiler! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28339521)

Chosen for him.... to poop on!

Re:Spoiler! (2, Informative)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#28340999)

Sorry, but by the time our sun has passed through it's red giant phase it will be considerably LESS than one solar mass.

(I've always wondered at what point in a stars life they count it's weight for that phrase. Possibly they're uncertain enough about the exact value that it doesn't matter, but I think the sun is expected to shed something approximating 1/4 of it's mass during the red giant phase, so that's a lot of uncertainty.

OTOH, I'm definitely NOT a astrophysicist, and I might be off in how much mass the sun is expected to shed by quite a large amount. All I really know is that it's not an insignificant amount.)

Only works for really big stars... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#28336991)

Damn those degenerate neutrons!

Re:Only works for really big stars... (5, Funny)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337195)

Welcome to the Max Planck Subatomic Cavalcade of Freaks! See! the Degenerate Neutron! Behold! the Strange Quark! Find! the Higgs Boson!

Must have been a Star Trek watcher (2, Funny)

renimar (173721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337371)

The phrase that stuck out for me was, 'a phase transition into "subhadronic" matter'. While I certainly recognize the need for new vocabulary when a new model/theory/phenomenon is described or discovered, this particular phrase, "subhadronic matter", gives me Star Trek Voyager flashbacks.

"Captain, the Borg are pulling us in!"

"Lt. Torres, can you reroute the power to the deflection array dish, and invert the signal to send out a subhadronic matter stream? That should disrupt the tractor beam long enough for us to warp out!"

"Recreate the forces inside a collapsing star, of course! Why didn't I think of that?"

Both? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28337385)

So now the sky, and the walls are burning?

Scientific method to the rescue (0)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337429)

Great! Let's use the scientific method to test this hypothesis. Oh wait, nevermind.

Sorry, but it's hard not to be cynical about astrophysics. Dark matter sounds like something invented by a writer for a Japanese cartoon series, and the scientific explanation sounds about as likely to be true.

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337535)

Then come up with a better idea of why galaxies move at the same rate on the outer edge that they do towards the center. That is what Dark Matter is all about, I'm not sure what Japanese cartoon series you're talking about but the idea from Dark Matter came from observations.

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (2, Informative)

getnate (518090) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337705)

The scientific method does not require a better theory in order to tear apart an incomplete or wrong theory.

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (2, Insightful)

Lokitoth (1069508) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338295)

It does, however, require a bit more than being one that "sounds like something invented by a writer for a Japanese cartoon series."

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (1)

notskynet (1397301) | more than 4 years ago | (#28380713)

The same way dimensions on the quantum scale fold in on themselves, it is possible that space itself is higher dimensional, and we see a subset of the dimensions. Thereby, on a galactic scale, there are more dimensions, which can easily screw the math to make gravity more powerful on a larger scale.

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (3, Insightful)

michaelwv (1371157) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337547)

That's exactly what we will do. This hypothesis will be quantified into making predictions about what we will see from supernovae and gamma-ray bursts (and perhaps other events). We will then plan and conduct observations of these events and see if the predictions of this hypothesis are consistent with the new data. A lot of interesting ideas like this come out but then stall for a while as people try translate qualitative ideas into quantitative predictions. Once that happens we can go out and test them.

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337787)

The SF explanation : all the missing matter is made of Dyson spheres...

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#28341023)

For some reason that I don't understand it's not supposed to be baryonic matter. I.e., no protons. This rules out the Dyson spheres.

Sorry. I'd really like that explanation to work.

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28343217)

The SF explanation : all the missing matter is made of Dyson spheres...

For some reason that I don't understand it's not supposed to be baryonic matter. I.e., no protons. This rules out the Dyson spheres.

All of the data from our observations is based on the assumption that what we are seeing is not being influenced by an intelligence.

And you have to admit, if a Dyson sphere could be designed engineered and built, there would probably have to be a little bit of intelligence behind it!

Yea I know, but it makes for some wonderful sci-fi story lines :D

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338537)

Sorry, but it's hard not to be cynical about astrophysics. Dark matter sounds like something invented by a writer for Sailor Moon the Japanese cartoon series, and the scientific explanation sounds about as likely to be true.

Fixed it for you...

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338547)

Dark matter sounds like something invented by a writer for a Japanese cartoon series, and the scientific explanation sounds about as likely to be true.

Would you prefer they call it "Here-Be-Dragons Matter"?

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28344071)

Non-existent unobservable matter perhaps?

Re:Scientific method to the rescue (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#28339061)

Great! Let's use the scientific method to test this hypothesis. Oh wait, nevermind.

Sorry, but if you don't understand how to test these hypotheses using the scientific method, you clearly don't understand science well enough to have a clue. What you really mean is, it's hard not to be cynical when you don't have a clue and can't be bothered to get one.

IT Security admin's rejoice! (2, Funny)

Tragedy4u (690579) | more than 4 years ago | (#28337641)

They can rest easy knowing that their Fire-Wall, will protect them from a Black Hole too...not just outside intruders!

Re:IT Security admin's rejoice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28341003)

There ya go. As long as the Large Hadron Collider has a good IT staff, then no worries come September when they fire it up again. Just make sure the firewall is good and ready.

observational tests? (4, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#28338447)

There are a lot of very difficult theoretical problems involved in trying to describe the structure of neutron stars. The classic picture of a star made of nothing but neutrons is probably not quite right, and is possibly qualitatively wrong in important ways. There's supposed to be an upper limit on the mass of a neutron star, and the theoretical uncertainties get greater as you get closer to this mass limit. E.g., it's possible that you get quark stars. We just don't know, because we don't know the behavior of the strong and weak nuclear forces with sufficient precision to be able to extrapolate to these extreme conditions.

Given all that uncertainty, which has existed for many decades, it's not at all surprising to me that there's a corresponding uncertainty about the conditions under which a neutron star is or isn't unstable with respect to collapse into a black hole. The paper [arxiv.org] , which is linked to from the end of the Technology Review article, is pretty heavy going. My field is nuclear physics, not relativistic astrophysics, and I had a hard time understanding it. The author's English is also pretty hard to understand, so it's hard to tell exactly what he's saying his conclusions are. But if you look at the end, he seems to be suggesting that black holes actually do not form.

I wonder to what extent existing observations constrain this idea. For instance, we know that the Sagittarius A* object at the center of our galaxy has a mass of at least 3.7 million solar masses and a radius of less than 6.25 light-hours. It would be interesting to know what he proposes this object is, if he says it's not a black hole.

Re:observational tests? (1)

uassholes (1179143) | more than 4 years ago | (#28340849)

Don't what he proposes, but some prefer MECOs (http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0603746) or Dark Energy Stars (http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0508115).

Re:observational tests? (1)

mrtommyb (1534795) | more than 4 years ago | (#28341343)

Sagittarius A* object at the center of our galaxy has a mass of at least 3.7 million solar masses

What the author is refering to is stellar mass black holes, ie. black holes that form from core collapse in star. The Supermassive black holes such as the one in our galaxy are a different beast entirely.

how could black hole ever form (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28338675)

I never understood how a black hole could ever form if at the event horizon time at a distant perspective stops, matter would pass the event horizon infinitely far in the future, and this would effect the formation of the event horizon itself as the event horizon started to form, time at that location would grind to a halt. Now this creates a paradox as to what would happen to something at the event horizon, but I read a solution that thanks to hawkins radiation, you would never pass the event horizon (or the event horizon would never form) as the rate of hawkins would increase approaching infinity as you approach the event horizon, so you would pop out the other side of the black hole at some stupid amount of time in the future after watching the black hole evaporate away before you before you every entered it.

Re:how could black hole ever form (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28344279)

I have a similar conundrum with black holes, if gravity propagates at c how does the black hole affect gravity wells at all?

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